How to Set Up a Hot Chocolate Bar

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hot chocolate and mix ins on a wooden shelf

Set up a Hot Chocolate Bar for your next cold weather gathering. Provide stir-in ingredients, toppings, and even alcohol if you’d like so that everyone can customize their own drink.

Slow Cooker Hot Chocolate is great on its own, but even more fun with toppings! To set up a hot chocolate bar, gather up your favorite toppings and set them out next to the slow cooker with some mugs and spoons.

Here are a few tips for creating a very easy, very festive hot chocolate bar!

a ladle in a slow cooker of hot chocolate

Ingredients to Include in a Hot Chocolate Bar

The sky is the limit, but when you’re setting up a hot chocolate bar, try a few of these additions:

Stir-In Ingredients

  • Caramel Sauce
  • Chocolate Sauce
  • Butterscotch Chips
  • Nutella
  • Speculoos / Cookie Butter
  • Peanut Butter


  • Mini Candy Canes
  • Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Marshmallows
  • Fresh Whipped Cream
  • Piroulines or other Wafer Cookies
  • Crushed Oreos
  • Chopped Heath  
  • Chopped Andes Mints

Alcohol for Cocktails

  • Mezcal
  • Bourbon
  • Bailey’s
toppings for hot chocolate on a wooden bench

Create Layers for Ingredients

There’s no need to go out and buy any decorations or supplies to create a festive, fun hot chocolate bar. You probably have everything you need. Creating layers makes it easy for everyone to see all of the options. To create a higher tier for ingredients, try using:

  • Cake stands
  • A shoebox wrapped in festive wrapping paper
  • Loaf pans
  • Clean flower pots
overhead view of toppings for hot chocolate in small white ramekins

Variations on Classic Hot Chocolate

Want to provide some inspiration? Write some ideas on cards and prop them up around the ingredients. A few ideas will help guests to come up with their own variations!

Mint Chocolate

  • Stir in Andes Mints
  • Top with:
    • Whipped Cream
    • Candy Cane
  • Add a shot of Bailey’s (for a cocktail)

Mexican Hot Chocolate

  • Stir in a pinch of Cayenne
  • Top with:
    • Whipped Cream
    • Grated Bittersweet Chocolate
    • Cinnamon Stick
  • Add a shot of Mezcal (for a cocktail)

Salted Caramel 

  • Stir in Caramel Sauce and pinch of salt
  • Top with:
    • Marshmallows
    • Drizzle of Caramel Sauce
  • Add a shot of Bourbon (for a cocktail)
slow cooker with hot chocolate on a wooden bench

Other Festive Appetizers and Treats for a Holiday Party

  • Peanut Butter Cookie Cups – When holiday cookies are set out, these are always the first to go. Soft, bite-sized peanut butter treats filled with chocolate peanut butter cups. 
  • Slow Cooker Hoisin Meatballs – These turkey meatballs are coated in a sweet and savory sauce and can be held on the warm setting in the slow cooker. Great for a cocktail party.
  • Baked Cheesy Chicken Wontons – Crunchy on the outside and super creamy on the inside, set out salsa for dipping these baked wontons.
  • Christmas Tree Meringues – So bright and festive, these are always a fun addition to a holiday spread. 
  • Cheese Pinwheels with Crispy Prosciutto – These make a fun snack or appetizer. They can be made ahead and served at room temperature for an elevated snack that lets the flavors of savory Grana Padano cheese and rich Prosciutto di Parma shine.

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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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  1. This was a hit at our Christmas dinner! I added it to a mini cheesecake buffet (assorted bite-sized cheesecake with various toppings just like the hot chocolate). Perfect end to the night!

    1. Mini cheesecake buffet = you are amazing! Ellen told me you were hosting a big dinner for Christmas! I’m so glad this was a hit!